Last Year at Marienbad redux
Last Year at Marienbad redux is an exhibition, public program and publication that together examine how fictional narratives develop over time to form accepted knowledge of people, places, events and things. Inspired by the unconventional cinematic techniques such as nonlinear narrative and repetitive language used in the 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad (directed by Alain Resnais, with screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet), the exhibition Last Year at Marienbad redux features works of art that deploy these and other devices⎯editing, character development, plot, mise-en-scène and montage⎯to disrupt, challenge and conflate what is understood as fact and fiction. The project explores how memory, meaning and, ultimately, an understanding of reality are shaped.
Last Year at Marienbad redux will bring together work by nine international contemporary artists whose practices engage with the technical and conceptual qualities of cinema. It will present newly commissioned and existing work, including a selection of Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates from the early 1970s. Fake Estates features photographic and text documentation of the artist’s purchase of peculiarly small and oddly shaped parcels of land in New York City, mostly Queens. Brooklyn-based artist Josh Tonsfeldt will make an installation inspired by the personal effects of a New York socialite whose obscure legacy is marked by a self-published memoir and found box of objects. Berlin-based artist Maya Schweizer will exhibit A Memorial, a Synagogue, a Bridge and a Church (2012), a high-contrast black-and- white video that explores transformations in the urban fabric of Bratislava’s Fish Square when construction of a new bridge over the Danube sparked outrage from local residents in response to the demolition of the old Jewish quarter and synagogue. The exhibition will include Allan Sekula & Noël Burch’s Reagan Tape (1984), a 10-minute video that intercuts clips from Reagan’s first State of the Union Address with clips from various Hollywood movies he starred in prior to becoming President. The artists juxtapose words of an emergent “Reaganomics” philosophy with scenes of a future President trying to tame a chimpanzee in Bedtime for Bonzo (1951).
The Marienbad Sessions is a program of free public events held inside the exhibition site amidst the works of art. The events include a listening session taking the form of an open-ended essay composed of sound hosted by Dan Fox; a reading of a script about the mythology surrounding the figure of Gordon Matta-Clark written and performed by Jessamyn Fiore; a lecture on 1960s avant-garde film by Jens Hoffmann; a discussion of the exhibition with James Voorhies; and a screening of short films by Berlin-based artist and filmmaker Maya Schweizer and conversation with the curator. The Marienbad Sessions seeks to reclaim the space of exhibition as a public sphere, returning it to a learning site where groups of visitors experience real-time, lived engagement visually and intellectually among works of art on exhibit.
The Marienbad Papers is a book produced as part of Last Year at Marienbad redux. It is a hybrid publication combining characteristics of an art journal, catalogue essay, screenplay and art criticism, featuring a series of newly commissioned texts by Jennifer Allen, Jessamyn Fiore, Dan Fox, Jens Hoffmann and James Voorhies. The Marienbad Papers will be released at a closing event on October 26. The book is made possible with a grant from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
ABOUT BUREAU FOR OPEN CULTURE
Bureau for Open Culture is an itinerant, nonprofit curatorial and publishing initiative that receives support from museums, universities and foundations to make projects in dialogue with contemporary artists and writers. It combines curating, education, design, communication and publishing to position the art institution as an overall form of critical practice, uniting art and education into a singular cohesive mode of exhibition making.
ABOUT CURATOR JAMES VOORHIES
James Voorhies is a curator, art historian and writer. He holds a PhD in modern and contemporary art history and is founder and director of Bureau for Open Culture. He has curated exhibitions and programs for the Siena Art Institute, Salon für Kunstbuch 21er Haus, MASS MoCA, Wexner Center for the Arts and Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. His writing has appeared in publications for the contemporary arts by Texte zur Kunst, frieze, Haus der Kulturen der Welt and Printed Matter. He teaches modern & contemporary art history and critical theory at Bennington College in Vermont.
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